[sixties-l] The Myth of Spitting

From: radman (resist@best.com)
Date: 01/14/01

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             Forgotten History - Friday, January 12, 2001
             "Little known facts and overlooked history"
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    The Myth of Spitting
       One of the lasting myths of the Vietnam War is that veterans,
    upon returning home, were spat upon by anti-war protesters.
    This is simply not true. There may have been some isolated
    incidents of this kind of conduct, however, the record shows
    that this type of abuse did not occur when veterans returned.
    This is not to say that some members of the anti-war movement
    were hostile, but by and large, the anti-war movement viewed
    the veteran as a victim of our government's policies.
       How does one disprove a myth? Well, one of the things that
    can be done is to look at records of the time. Do any incidents of
    spitting on veterans appear in either the Los Angeles Times, New York
    Times or the San Francisco Chronicle.
    No, they don't! In fact, a look at articles in magazines of
    that time period find no references to anti-war protesters
    spitting on veterans. Neither are there any pictures of
    these supposed incidents. Logic would dictate that if this
    occurred, at the level that is said, then some photographer
    would have taken a picture. In fact, there aren't any
    existing pictures offered by the FBI, the army, news services,
    the returning veterans themselves, all of whom had the power
    to record incidents of this type. Furthermore, there isn't
    even written proof of these veterans reporting these alleged
    incidents to the proper authorities.
       Ask yourself this question, why are there not police reports
    of spitting incidents. If veterans returned home and were
    greeted by angry protesters don't you think some would have
    been arrested? So how has this become part of our national
    myth? John O'Conner, a marine chaplain who would go on to
    become Cardinal O'Conner speaks of anti-war protesters
    spitting on soldiers at the Pentagon protests of 1967. This
    too is a lie. There were hundreds of camera people there at
    the time. We see pictures of protesters putting flowers in
    the barrel of rifles, we see protesters and the police
    battle, but no pictures of spitting. When asked to be specific
    O'Conner declined. That's because it never happened.
       When Dr. Robert Lifton began giving psychiatric evaluations
    of returning veterans, his work would serve to pave the way
    for the recognition of Post-Traumatic Stress (PTS.) Dr. Lifton
    reported that no veterans gave any examples of this kind
    of behavior. The fact of the matter is that the most abusive
    treatment of veterans did not come from hippie girls, as the
    fourth rate hack Bob Greene of the Chicago Sun Times reported,
    but from the administration and VFW halls across the nation.
       Many veterans that I have spoken to remember being abused by
    VFW members who often ridiculed them. They did this by telling
    the returning veterans that their war was not a real war
    or often asked them, "why they couldn't win their war?" The
    other group to abuse veterans was Richard Nixon's administration
    whose VA refused to treat them for agent orange
    poisoning. Nixon also used informants against the veterans
    that opposed the war and turned the FBI loose to disrupt
    their activities.
       There was, however, one group that did indeed spit on
    veterans. The young republicans who spat upon on Ron Kovic
    and other veterans at the 1972 republican convention. The
    veterans were protesting and calling for an end to the war
    in Vietnam and were greeted by the young zealots of the GOP
    who cursed and spat upon them. Let's get the record straight
    once and for all. It was the administration who abused veterans
    by sending them to fight and die and then not taking care of
    them afterward, not the anti-war movement.
    Sources: Interview with veterans for the documentary,
              Citizen Soldiers: The Story of the VVAW.
              The Spitting Image: Jerry Lembcke
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